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The Privacy Issue - Hollow Assurances

The privacy of ordinary Canadians is under attack, largely as a result of free trade and the move towards deep integration with the United States.

How many Canadians realize that many major Canadian banks, including the Royal Bank, CBIC, President's Choice, ScotiaBank, Citizens Bank, and Canadian Tire Financial have outsourced some or all of their credit card data processing to companies located in the United States? Once the data of Canadian citizens enters the United States, it may be subject to forcible disclosure pursuant to American laws such as the Patriot Act, or US Court orders.

And now, our Canadian government is placing the highly personal data of Canadians at risk of disclosure to US authorities, by oursourcing the Census software and hardware to Lockheed Martin (Canada) Corp.

Despite the assurances of Statistics Canada that Lockheed Martin employees will not have direct custody of the actual Census data, we are far from reassured. If the United States Government, which is Lockheed Martin's biggest customer, tells LM that it wants the personal data of Canadians, we think that Lockheed Martin, through it's Canadian subsidiary, would not defy a demand of the US Government.

Statistics Canada argues that Lockheed Martin is limited to "only" supplying the Census software and hardware. But computer software is highly technical and complex. We believe it would be entirely possible for Lockheed Martin to plant a "trojan horse" within the Census software, to secretly allow the CIA to tap into Canadian census data.

If this seems absurdly paranoid on our part, let us remember that the US government is trying to force creators of encryption privacy software to build in a special tap to allow government access into private citizens' encrypted data--all in the name of the "war on terrorism". We are also talking about a country whose recent President, sworn to uphold the law and the Constitution, has admitted to authorizing illegal wiretaps. And a country which has demanded that Twitter (and probably Facebook and others) hand over in secret, account information and personal messages of individuals.

If all this seems paranoid, let us remember WikiLeaks. Even the data held by the U.S. Pentagon was not secure. Once our data is on a computer, all it takes is one individual to leak our personal data.

Finally, Statistics Canada can't even keep it's own employees' personal records, including SIN numbers and salary earned, confidential! Details of this shocking privacy leak here.

Sorry, Statistics Canada, but we believe your privacy assurances are hollow.

Statistics Canada is trying to confine the issue solely to the question of data confidentiality-or-not, because that issue is inconclusive--cannot be proven one way or the other. But we say the issues go far beyond the privacy question. The other crucial issues, which StatsCan tries to avoid, are Lockheed Martin, deep integration, Canadian sovereignty, and job losses.

So even if Statistics Canada could guarantee the privacy of personal census data (which it cannot), we believe the fact that the census software and hardware have been contracted out under NAFTA to a subsidiary of US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin is in itself an affront to Canadians.

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